Having An Offshore Bank Account Post-FATCA

Day One, Flag One: What You Need To Know About Having A Bank Account Offshore

“We’re defined by our choices. So try new things. It’ll force you to make new choices. The more choices you make, the less helpless you’ll feel…”
–Attendee at this week’s Global Asset Protection and Wealth Summit in Panama City

Dear Overseas Opportunity Letter Reader,

Yesterday, day one of the Global Asset Protection and Wealth Summit Lief Simon is hosting in Panama City this week, Lief and I had lunch with banker friends in town for the conference. One, with 30 years of experience in the global banking industry, sat down, looked around the table, and said:

“I wish I hadn’t been so right.

“I began telling people that the roof was being lowered 25 years ago. I began warning them and urging them to get their money and their assets out of the United States… to move whatever they could offshore.

“Now, today, the roof is very low indeed and continuing to close in on us. Things are bad… tight… but they’re going to get worse. Today it’s harder than ever and it’s harder all the time to move money out of the States. We are living through the era I predicted years ago…”

As I listened to our banker friend and watched the others around the table all nod their heads slowly in dejected agreement, I thought how strange the conversation might seem to the casual passer-by.

Really, I thought how strange the conversation would have seemed to me not too many years ago. Yesterday, though, I nodded along with everyone else at the table. I’m not paranoid by nature, and I’ve always discounted doomsday predictions, like the one my banker friend made starting two-and-a-half decades ago. I try to keep things in perspective.

Yesterday at lunch, I realized how my perspective has shifted. I’m not paranoid, but I am paying attention.

Lief and I do business and have investments in many different countries. Lief manages the administration for all these activities. He is on the front lines and in the trenches, dealing with banks around the world every day. He knows from firsthand experience the challenges, the frustrations, and the restrictions faced today by anyone (but especially by an American) trying to do business, make investments, and move money around the world.

This week’s Global Asset Protection and Wealth Summit has been conceived around the recognized Five Flags paradigm for going offshore. Banking is one of the Five Flags, one of the opportunities for diversifying your capital, your assets, your investments, and your future overseas. For years, we’ve been recommending banking as an ideal option for anyone just getting started with this go-offshore stuff. It’s the easiest best first step, we’ve long said.

It’s still a great getting-started step, and it’s a necessary piece of the infrastructure you need to build if you want to spend time, do business, or make investments in another country.

However, it’s not nearly as easy as it used to be to open a bank account in another country, especially if you’re an American. It is still possible and still important to hold at least one bank account (we recommend at least two, in fact) offshore, but in today’s world you need to be prepared for the process of getting an offshore bank account opened.

“A German friend recently moved to the United States,” one of the attorneys participating in this week’s conference told the group. “He needed a bank account. So he prepared a dossier of documents and materials and took it to the bank with him to open an account.

“But the bank wasn’t interested in looking at any of it. All they wanted was the guy’s passport. He showed them his passport and had a bank account opened within 20 minutes.

“You could ask,” our attorney friend continued, “why the draconian rules that the United States is forcing banks around the world to comply with aren’t having the same effects on U.S. banks. You really have to wonder.

“But it doesn’t do you any good to wonder. We can’t change the rules of banking in this post-FATCA, anti-money-laundering age. All we can do is try to keep up with them… and then do what we need to do to comply with them.”

Bankers and other industry experts participating in our Banking panel discussion detailed what you need to know to open a bank account in another country… and walked through strategies for doing business, investing, buying real estate, and getting money where you want it to be in today’s complicated banking age.

Banking is one of the Five Flags. The other four are:

  • Residency
  • Citizenship
  • Assets
  • Business

With the help of the professionals in the room with us in Panama City this week, collectively the A-list of offshore experts, we’re addressing all of these important agendas in turn.

As one speaker remarked on the topic of diversifying assets offshore:

“Physical gold is about as useful in an end-of-days scenario as my ability to make spreadsheets. You can’t eat gold. It’s the farmers who will rule the world if the banking, credit, and financial industries collapse… as they well could…”

I’ll pick it up here tomorrow.

Kathleen Peddicord

P.S. Today’s Banking panel discussion was recorded, as will be every presentation and panel discussion of this week’s three-day event. While the conference continues, you can purchase the complete bundle of recordings and presentation materials pre-release for more than 50% off the regular price.

Go here to do that now.

Continue reading: The Cost Of Medical Care And Health Insurance Living Overseas